Auto information giant Kelley Blue Book goes mobile
Kelley Blue Book, one of the most venerable names in new and used car information, has gone mobile with its first site optimized for the iPhone.
The site at http://www.kbb.com will let consumers using the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPod touch to access auto-related information for free, following the same model as the publisher’s traditional Web site.
“We did a few experiments with a WAP site in the past, but we never kept it alive, but this is our first real entry into the mobile space,” said Justin Yaros, executive vice president of product design and development at Kelley Blue Book, Irvine, CA.
“With the iPhone, we wanted to take advantage of a mobile platform that is more feature-rich, faster for consumers, certainly sexier,” he said.
The site offers new and used car prices and values, reviews, images and videos from kbb.com, as well as the ability to seek free dealer price quotes.
Kelley Blue Book created the iPhone site in-house.
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book is known for its Blue Book Official Guide for new and used vehicle shoppers.
The company’s traditional Web site at http://www.kbb.com is the leading automotive information Web site, attracting between 12 million and 14 million unique users per month.
The seed for the kbb.com site for the iPhone was germinated when Apple CEO Steve Jobs used the regular kbb.com site last summer to demonstrate the iPhone’s capabilities when he launched the phone.
Kbb.com didn’t have a mobile presence at that time, though its site pulled up on the iPhone just like most others do on the phone’s Safari browser.
The intention with this iPhone site is to ensure that kbb.com is available in a viewer-friendly format for consumers on the go.
“The goal here is to support someone’s needs if they are out and about to find a dealer quickly,” Mr. Yaros said. “It supports the mapping and GPS features.
“When you’re out on a dealer’s lot, it really supplements what you have on your desktop, with the ability to check prices and values,” he said.
Kbb.com operates in an automotive information market with formidable players such as Edmunds.com, Consumer Reports, AutoTrader and Cars.com, which is often held up as a poster child of a user-friendly mobile commerce site.
“The goal is to not necessarily to monetize the [iPhone] site,” Mr. Yaros said. “We want to help consumers.
“If we extended our reach to kbb.com and get them to come back, then we’ll have achieved our purpose,” he said.
That said, there are plans to generate revenue from the mobile site using the same model for online. Dealers pay for leads generated by the iPhone site when consumers fill in fields and request information.
“We’re having discussions for certain key sponsorships with major automotive companies,” Mr. Yaros said.
Kelley Blue Book will extend its mobile presence on other platforms such as the BlackBerry, but it doesn’t have a firm date set.
The company’s current focus is to evolve the iPhone site month to month, adding content and sponsorships.
“Right now our goal is to test it and monitor it to see how it evolves over time,” Mr. Yaros said.
“We were monitoring how many people visited the site and there was a fourfold increase just over the past weekend after the iPhone site launched,” he said.